SOUTH PADRE ISLAND, Texas (ValleyCentral) — South Padre Island Birding, Nature Center, and Alligator Sanctuary celebrated their oldest resident alligator, Big Padre’s, 54th birthday Saturday.
The twelve-and-a-half foot, almost 900-pound male alligator was celebrated with cake, refreshments, fun, and games.
“All alligators have birthdays in late summer, so that kind of gives us a good reason to have a celebration for him and at the same time teach people about alligators,” said SPI Birding, Nature Center, and Alligator Sanctuary’s Naturalist Educator, Javier Gonzalez.
Gonzalez explained that Big Padre was rescued from Port Arthur, TX after he was deemed a nuisance.
Big Padre was being fed by the fisherman at docks in Part Arthur, resulting in loss of fear of people and one day scared a man docking his boat, according to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez said the man called Texas Parks and Wildlife and Big Padre was then needed to be removed from the area.
“He lucked out because he got to come here to our sanctuary, he got to be rescued and now he’s under our care, that’s not the fate of most nuisance gators,” said Gonzalez.
Visitors now come to see Big Padre in his habitat at the sanctuary, including his big birthday bash.
“He’s obsessed with alligators, and we thought that celebrating Big Padre’s birthday would be a good surprise for him,” said Brownsville resident, Yvonne Perez-Fuentes.
Perez-Fuentes said her family visited the sanctuary before and their son was able to observe baby alligators up close and enjoyed their visit.
Gonzalez said the sanctuary has great opportunities for the community to observe wildlife up close, but alligator awareness and education are a big part of the experience.
“Come and learn about these magnificent creatures”Javier Gonzalez, Naturalist Educator – SPI Birding, Nature Center, & Alligator Sanctuary
Information on Big Padre and the SPI Birding, Nature Center, & Alligator Sanctuary can be found on their website.